An HBCU alumna and ally who are now prominent real estate agents sit down and talk with us about what to potentially expect for the year ahead in the real estate market covering coast to coast.
Tiffany Curry (top left) – A Texas Southern University alumna who now works for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Anderson Properties in Houston, TX.
Kimberly C. Lehman (top right) – An HBCU ally who is married to a Hampton graduate and now owns and runs KC Lehman Realty as a division of John Aaroe Group in Los Angeles, CA.
What do you believe the rate hike in December by the Federal Reserve may do to the coming year of real estate?
TC: I believe the rate spike will motivate buyers that have been on the fence. I think people will fear the rates may continue to rise and that we will see an increase in buyers purchasing homes. Rents are at record highs. It is still less expensive to own vs. lease.
KC: If the interest rates rise in the way we expect, it will impact how much buyers currently in the market can afford. As such, home values should level out, but many buyers will continue to be priced out.
Tell us something that makes you optimistic and pessimistic about the 2017 real estate market?
TC: I’m excited that the 2017 market has already shown positive signs of movement. I currently have clients who are ready to sell and purchase new homes in the first quarter of 2017. I expect my business to double in the 2017 year which is remarkable in the current marketplace. Consumers are seeing value in homeownership and are trading their homes for more space or better locations.
KC: Optimistic: In Southern California, there is no shortage of buyers, and therefore opportunities for business continues to grow. If values level out, that might balance out the supply and demand which also equals more opportunities for business.
Pessimistic: Uncertainty of our new administration has sellers that ordinarily would sell right now holding tight. Also current home values will cause some buyers who are unwilling to compromise on property location and/or condition to drop out of the game.
Where do you see the most opportunity for real estate investors in your market for 2017?
TC: In Houston, we have a diverse and growing economy. I see development as an excellent place for investors. Land purchases should be key for investors as the Houston population will nearly double by 2040. Land will become scarce and is a great opportunity for someone that can buy and hold.
KC: Southeast Los Angeles if they are smart. They missed the boat on Inglewood.
Companies like Redfin, Zillow, and others are disrupting the traditional real estate market. How are you seeing their presence influence the real estate market?
TC: Houston is a rare marketplace where we have our own local consumer public facing website, har.com. HAR.com is the only site in the US where Zillow, Realtor.com and others do not hold prominent market share. This has enabled brokers and agents in the market to maintain their presence without the need for an outside third party. Redfin however has come into the marketplace as they offer a discount service. Consumers who want to save on commissions are using their services however it is in line with the traditional discount brokerages that would have attracted this type of consumer. Although they are capturing consumers they still are a very small impact in our local market as most consumers still want the guidance and expertise of a REALTOR that has time to handle their needs rather than one that is focused on transactions.
KC: Buyers and sellers are relying on these sites to educate them about the real estate process and home values. As it relates to the latter, none of these sites are truly accurate. Redfin in particular has gotten their own market share of listings and buyers through their site and their agents are in direct competition with those of us at traditional brokerages. They aren’t always knowledgeable of the areas they are tied to via the site. I’ve heard horror stories!
On the upside, Zillow reviews are liquid gold to agents in the field.
Since reaching its all-time high of 49.1 percent in 2004, African American homeownership has now fallen to an all-time low of 41.1 percent as of third quarter 2016, an almost 20 percent decline. What do you believe can be done in the foreseeable future to reengage the African American consumer?
TC: I believe the African American consumer must be reeducated on the value of homeownership. Homeownership for most Americans is their primary source of wealth and assets. I believe our communities, churches and social groups must put more emphasis on the value of owning the land beneath your feet. As one of the largest groups in consumer spending we must do a better job of prioritizing what we spend our monies on. Material items that depreciate are not the key to wealth. Laying the foundation to a solid financial future for our children and their children’s children are what we must focus on. Building and maintaining our communities by owning what is in them is key.
KC: African Americans need to pool resources in order to compete with the current buyers in the market. Often, our community looks to FHA, NACA, CALHFA and other government programs to help us – but unless we are shopping in low income areas, we can’t compete with the cash offers elsewhere. If we work together and create real estate investment groups we can began to establish potential generational wealth for our heirs.
Thank you for participating ladies and we look forward to your 2018 forecast! To reach these agents please click their names to be directed to their websites.
Tiffany Curry – Houston, TX
KC Lehman – Los Angeles, CA